Problems continue to come in wave after wave for Juhu aerodrome. The airport, which is already facing security issues, is now hard-pressed to prevent slum dwellers from disposing of their garbage on the perimeter road.
With residents of adjoining shanties dumping tonnes of garbage daily thereby extending the slum boundary, airport officials are claiming that the civic body is not making a sincere effort to remove the refuse, leave alone stop the practice. With the lackadaisical attitude of the BMC not changing, Juhu airport authorities now clear the waste at their own cost, only to ensure that the perimeter road is available for patrolling.
“Since the past few months, slum residents have started jettisoning their garbage on our perimeter road. As this road is an important link for patrolling vehicles bearing in mind the vulnerability of the airport, we had informed the local office of BMC several times, because the garbage is supposed to be cleared by the civic body. However, as the civic body has failed to address the issue so far, we have been clearing the garbage at our own cost, so that this perimeter road is protected,” said an official at Juhu airport, on condition of anonymity.
Officials further informed that the garbage clearing on this patch by Juhu airport authority has now become a monthly affair, and to clear the trash that has stretched out over a one-kilometre area, heavy-duty machines are hired. “If we don’t take the initiative, our road will be blocked. We clean it because we have no other option left,” said M Yadagiri, director of Juhu airport. Despite repeated attempts, Ramesh Pawar, assistant municipal commissioner of K-West Ward could not be reached for a comment.
The 385-acre Juhu airport has two major slums — Nehru Nagar and Indira Nagar — in the vicinity, and they have allegedly encroached upon over 40 acres of the premises. With no foolproof security and only a handful of unarmed guards stationed at this airport, which is also the largest base for chopper operation in the country, it remains vulnerable.
The much discussed CISF induction for Juhu could not take place, as the airport doesn’t have money in its kitty to afford the personnel. The airport is currently exploring possibilities to rope in state police personnel, and a detailed safety audit is likely to happen early next week, sources revealed.
The airport is likely to lose one of its runways soon due to a bureaucrat-builder-politician nexus that wants the runway to shut down, so that developers can construct taller buildings.